Free from 4/12-4/16 $0.99 from 4/16-4/30
by Watson Davis
Publisher Watson Davis
Free from 4/12-4/16 $0.99 from 4/16-4/30
🎇🎇 $0.99! NEW RELEASE 🎇🎇
A deposed Wizard-king leads his ragged band of followers to the last town before the waste and hides there from his vengeful queen while building an army to re-take his rightful kingdom. A regular army won't do for the Wizard-king. He needs something deadlier, something magical, something demonic.
When Wallak of the Bright Fox tribe wakes up from a night of carousing in Ancliff, he can't find his nephew. He can't return to his tribe alone, but if he finds his nephew, he may never return to his tribe at all.
This is a swords and sorcery tale of dark, soul-twisting magic where no-one is safe.
Wisebrand leaned back, resting his head and shoulders against the wall next to the door to King Thrune’s quarters. The deck bucked beneath his feet, rolling and dropping in a random, nauseating fashion as his sweaty hands gripped his spear with white knuckles.
On the other side of the door, his long-time friend Meril stood guard as well, his face pale and green in the magelight. Meril muttered, “I can’t take much more of this.”
Wisebrand gulped and said, “It’s better than being belowdecks or—all the gods forbid—on deck. At least we’re dry, and the air is almost fresh. Just hang on. We’ll land soon.”
Meril groaned. “We’d better.”
The door to the main deck flew open, unleashing a frigid wind that blew in and swirled around them. Driu Mum, King Thrune’s foreign bodyguard, dashed in and slammed the door shut. Water dripped from his dour face. He glared at Wisebrand and Meril as he straightened the long and short swords—thin and delicate compared to Gehendian blades—tucked into the black sash around his waist.
Wisebrand straightened up, coming to full attention. Meril scrabbled to match him with arms flailing.
Driu Mum stomped down the hall and stopped before Wisebrand, glaring up at him and then raising an eyebrow. “The king?”
“He’s with his lords, sir,” Wisebrand said, turning in the narrow corridor to allow Driu Mum easier access to the door.
“One of you should be inside with him.”
Wisebrand shrugged. “He ordered us out.”
Driu Mum growled. He stepped forward and threw the door open, entering the king’s quarters without bothering to knock, and Wisebrand followed him, just in case.
Thrune, the deposed King of Gehend, hunched over his desk, a magelight floating over his shoulder and an inkpot by his hand. He dipped his quill into the ink and then his hand flew across a piece of parchment, marking it with arcane runes and symbols. He glared up at Driu Mum, sharing similar features and skin color with his bodyguard thanks to his mother’s blood. A bowl on the table behind him held a half-eaten leg of lamb in a vegetable broth. He said, “I have solved the problem of control.”
“What use is that without an army?” Duke Baier asked from where he sat in an overstuffed leather sofa, a goblet of wine in his hand. His sister, the diminutive Lady Arita, sat at his side with a book of Ohkrulon poetry in her manicured hands.
“Sir.” Driu Mum inclined his head to Duke Baier and returned his attention to the king. “We’re approaching a fishing village.”
“A fishing village?” Thrune looked at the parchment, made a few quick marks, and then set his quill aside. He rose from his chair, looking toward Driu Mum and Wisebrand. “You tell me this, why?”
“Captain Strynger believes this to be the last village along the coast before the far wastes.” Driu Mum shrugged. “You must choose between stopping here, or continuing on into the ice and not finding a better place to land.”
Lady Arita slammed the book shut, and glared up with haunting green eyes from below her brunette curls. “We should turn back now and retake what is rightfully ours, instead of skulking about like chastened slaves.”
“All in good time, my lady.” Thrune strode past Driu Mum and Wisebrand, through the door with Driu Mum close behind him.
Wisebrand followed after them but stopped just outside the door to the king’s quarters where he’d been standing guard, while King Thrune and Driu Mum continued on down the hall, through the door and out into the rain.
Meril gestured for Wisebrand to follow the king, mouthing, “It’s your turn. I’ll wait here.”
“Damn it,” Wisebrand said, and scurried through the door and into the raging storm.
A magical bubble encircled the king’s flagship, the Pribinya, protecting it from the worst of the pounding rain, the frigid wind, and the mountainous waves, but the rain, wind, and waves still pummeled the ship, the last of Thrune’s once magnificent fleet.
Thrune glided up the steps to the quarterdeck, the elements not touching him, Driu Mum at his side, and he stopped before the captain. Wisebrand stumbled up after them, holding onto the railing and taking each of the steps with care. He staggered across the deck to take his position behind the king.
Captain Strynger clung to the wheel, steering the boat, or trying to. Above, sailors flew like birds from mast to mast, following his orders. A wind mage, Gaviglia, chanted before his brazier behind the captain, moving his hands in wild patterns.
Two large cliffs appeared out of the mist and rain, the waves crashing against them.
“Hold the bitch steady!” Captain Strynger bellowed to Gaviglia, his voice carrying over the fury of the storm.
Wisebrand gasped and braced himself, expecting the ship to be flung into the crags and to break and sink into the sea, never to be seen or heard from again.
The ship, powered and protected by Gaviglia, slipped in between those deadly rocks into a circular bay. The wind howled through the gaps between the rocks behind them, rising from the water like the fangs of a giant dragon, but beyond those cliffs, the waves calmed.
A town hugged a steep outcrop of black stone, with roads winding up to the top of a small cliff. A few small sailing ships sat docked at a primitive harbor, with smaller craft braving the bay’s waters with nets out.
A river fed the bay with cliffs lining the shore. In the mouth of the river, one huge pillar of battered stone stood like a monument to defiance, a brother of the rocks shielding the harbor from the worst of the storm’s waves.
“I thought it best we at least wait out the storm here, your majesty,” Captain Strynger said.
“That was for the best,” Thrune said. He motioned toward the town. “Land here. We need a haven from the wind.”
# # #
Wisebrand marched behind King Thrune, Driu Mum, and the handful of nobles who’d escaped from Gehend with them, struggling to keep his hunger and weariness from showing. After so long at sea, the solid earth beneath his feet seemed to buck and shift like the deck of the ship in the storm. A chill rain fell from the dark sky, beading up on Wisebrand’s face and dripping down his chainmail armor.
Flimsy wattle and daub buildings lined a street wide enough for two carts to pass each other, but the buildings blocked much of the rain and most of the sky. A rugged-looking group of locals with blond hair and blue eyes crowded the edges of the streets, standing in doorways and between the buildings, watching with frowns on their faces.
“I would rather brave the storm,” Lady Arita said, her normally perfectly coiffed hair now falling around her face and sticking to her wet skin. “This place is wretched and disgusting.”
Duke Baier asked, “This is the last town on our maps, is it not?”
Captain Strynger rushed forward, bowing. “Yes, sir, and my men have talked to the locals and verified the fact. These barbarians know of nothing else beyond this point save for the tribes of reindeer herders.”
“Reindeer herders?” Lord Lenard said, chuckling. “There are people who do that?”
“We should turn around now,” Lady Arita said, following King Thrune into an open square with an inn, a temple, and various shops on three sides, and to the northwest a cliff, a gap, and the large stone pillar rising from the river below.
“Yes,” Duke Baier said. “We would be better served in Timyiskil, or even Birgita.”
“No,” King Thrune said, stopping in the middle of the square and turning to his nobles. He gestured toward the stone. “This is perfect. My castle will stand there. We will build a defensive wall around the heart of the town and fortify the port.”
“Here?” Lady Arita shook her head. “Your castle? What about us? What are we supposed to do?”
“We will build palaces for my nobles,” Thrune said. He made a brushing movement with his hand. “We can remove these old buildings as required.”
“And the people who live here?” Lord Lenard asked. “I doubt they’ll just stand by while we demolish their homes.”
“How will they stop us?” Thrune asked.
Wisebrand glanced at the crowd surrounding them, wishing he’d stayed with Queen Karitsa in Gehend, wishing he hadn’t volunteered for this mission, wishing Thrune had more soldiers fit for battle.
Thrune turned to Driu Mum. “Find whoever is in charge of this cesspool so we can discuss the terms of their surrender.”
Driu Mum bowed. “Of course, your majesty.”
# # #
“Pardon,” Cyrilla said, reaching up to a townsman she’d never seen before.
The man didn’t look at her. He brushed her aside and walked on as though she didn’t exist.
The buildings around the street rose into the sky like the faces of strange canyons. Horses and donkeys pulled carts while people yelled, bustling this way and that, all very confusing. Tears fell from her eyes, and snot dripped from her nose.
A beautiful woman strutted down the street and Cyrilla moved toward her. “Ma’am, I can’t find my mommy and daddy. Can you—”
The woman swept past her like a stiff wind. Cyrilla retreated into an alley and huddled up against the side of a stone building, hung her head, and cried.
A man wearing furs and a pretty tunic ambled up, with brown hair and eyes, a foreigner from the Southlands. In strangely accented words, he said, “Hey, little missy.”
Cyrilla backed further into the alley.
He knelt before her, a smile on his dusky face. “What’s your name, my little lamb?”
She gulped. “Cyrilla. I’m five.” She held up her hand, displaying all her fingers and thumb.
“You’re not from here, are you?” he asked.
She shook her head.
He raised his bushy eyebrows. “Which tribe?”
“Do you want to be like a hero from the old tales? Do you want to find your mommy and daddy?”
She nodded and edged forward.
He reached his hand out to her, saying, “Then come with me.”
And she did.
Join BookDaily now and receive featured titles to sample for free by email.
Reading a book excerpt is the best way to evaluate it before you spend your time or money.
Just enter your email address and password below to get started:
Instant Bonus: Get immediate access to a daily updated listing of free ebooks from Amazon when you confirm your account!
Watson Davis has been a professional guitarist, a computer programmer, a database designer, web developer, and an artist. Born in a US air force base in Louisiana, he was raised in Texas and graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of Houston-Downtown, and with Honors from The Musician's Institute in Hollywood. He now lives on the Costa Blanca of Spain with his wife, four cats, two horses, and a collection of guitars.